I was born M. Lisa Kuzara on May 11 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We lived in Palmer Lake, Colorado at the time and I remember lots of pine trees, the rock patio my dad built and my sandbox. One of my favorite stories my dad told me about living there was about how he used to carry me on his shoulders while walking through the pine trees surrounding our house. He would pretend to trip because I would break out in peals of laughter. 

We moved to Denver for a few years, and then to Northglenn, Colorado (just north of Denver) when I was in third grade. Some of my most vivid memories begin when I was about five years old. We started water-skiing on Horsetooth Reservoir near Fort Collins, Colorado. We had a speed boat and a flat-topped in-board we called "the barge." We would anchor on the lake all day and ski and swim from our barge as home base. We'd take off on Friday night and get home late on Sunday. What great times those were! I loved to slalom at every opportunity. One time, my mom swears they had to kill the engine on the boat to get me to stop---I'd skiied the full 9-mile length of the lake! I remember it well. Even the sting of tired muscles couldn't stop me from enjoying the exhiliaration of skiing on water. I've skiied a few times since my childhood but nothing can compare with those early years of "living on the lake."

When I think about my childhood, I also fondly recall liking school and taking lessons---piano and ballet almost exclusively. And of course those unforgettable summers in Steamboat Springs, Colorado at Stephens/Perry-Mansfield, a girls camp for music, theater and dance. I loved ballet. My first ambition was to become a professional dancer. My first job ever was as a ballet teacher to young children.

While I was in high school, I loved performing in musical comedies. I vividly remember performing in "H.M.S. Pinafore," "Oklahoma," "Gypsy," and having the lead in "Finian's Rainbow." I cherish my memories of performing first with the Colorado Concert Ballet Company and later with the Denver Civic Ballet Company. Performing in "the Nutcracker" over several years was my favorite memory! I loved being Clara, a snowflake, a mechanical doll, a soldier doll, and the spanish licorice dance. I also loved singing in the choir almost every year of school. I ended my senior year on a high note as the winner of our local Junior Miss Pageant.
 
After high school, I had a difficult time finding my way. I had grown up in the unrest of the sixties and wandered from job to job. I first worked as a waitress, then a secretary to a law professor, and then as a clerk for the Arizona Department of Transportation. Finally, after five unsuccessful tries at college, I decided I needed to get serious. When I earned my A.A. in general studies at Mesa Community College with high honors, I knew I was headed in a better direction. True to form, I was aimless in reaching my goal once I entered my degree program, changing my major five times, but when I found the program in the College of Education geared toward young children, I knew I was home. I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.  It was my 30th birthday.  It was a magical day.
Immediately upon graduation, I began working as a preschool teacher in ASU's Child Study Laboratory where I had completed my student teaching experience. Despite five happy years there, it was part time, so I moved into a full time position in the sister school on campus, the Child Development Laboratory. I spent three happy years there as a full-day Kindergarten teacher. I had been working on my Master's degree while teaching on campus and was pleased to complete my Master of Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Administration.  I remember that day as if it was yesterday. After all my struggling and hard work, I knew I had done something very special with my life.  I felt different and I knew my life would never be the same.

Following my third year of teaching Kindergarten, I accepted an administrative position with Word of Grace Church in Mesa, Arizona. I became Minister of Early Childhood and managed a large week-day and weekend program serving 400-500 children birth through Kindergarten. While there, I had the priviledge of designing and opening a school for young children. I left there following a reorganization a few months after 9/11, took some time off for myself, and then accepted a position as a Kindergarten Program Director for a local for-profit childcare chain. After a year there, I was offered a position as an Instructor for the East Valley Institute of Technology teaching Early Childhood Education to high school students. What a drastic change that was! However, I found my way into their hearts, and discovered that I really was a teacher after all. If I could teach young children and teenagers equally well, then I really had found my calling after all. When I look back on my career, it fills me with joy that I could have done something so noble, so special with my life as to give it back to others. I found out mid-way through my career that I would never have children of my own, so to be involved in the lives of children as a substitute has been such a satisfying way to spend my life.

Ginger, Lisa and Anna
East Valley Institute of Technology, January 2006
I play competitive pool with the AZPL, (Arizona Pool League) and live a quiet life with my husband Darren, our pack of dogs, and a few Ocicats (On Facebook, You Wild Thing Ocicats). I've done some web-page designing, some singing, and some hiking in the last few years. My favorite vacation spot is anywhere on the beach...expecially Hawaii!